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Neon vs LED Signs: Which is Best for You?

You want your sign to be the first thing people see when they’re driving down the street or walking through the mall. Your sign should give some insight into what type of business you are. This comes down to the font style and the type of lighting you use. But the most important part? Getting potential customers’ attention! That’s made easy with glowing, colorful lights. 

When it comes to signs, there are two basic types of lighting that people use, neon and LED. So let’s look at neon vs. LED signs, checking out what they are and how they differ from one another. 

What Are Neon Signs?

Neon lights at night

Neon signs are comprised of glass tubes that were bent and filled with gas. High-voltage electrical currents run through the gas to help the sign emit light. What you use depends on what lighting effect you’re going for. 

Nowadays, most people use argon instead. Sometimes xenon, krypton, and helium are used as well. It depends on what lighting effect you’re going for. A lot of people also find neon lighting too expensive and other options are more energy-efficient. Neon signs first saw a decline in the late 2000s, but their sense of nostalgia blended with their futuristic look is still appealing to many people all over the world. 

What Are LED Signs?

LED lights changing color bright

Light-emitting diodes (LED) signs use many LEDs to create pixels that will create an image. LEDs are semiconductors that light up when an electrical current runs through them. LEDs, unlike neon signs, can be any color.

LED signs last for 50,000 – 100,000 hours, while neon signs can last for over 30,000 hours. Considered more efficient than traditional lighting, 95% of their energy is converted into light and only 5% is wasted as heat. 

Neon vs. LED Signs

Below we’ll review the key differences between neon and LED signs. 

Power Usage

To compare them, we’ll look at one foot of a typical neon tube, and one foot of LEDs. A neon tube that you keep on for 12 hours every day will use about 15.33 – 17.52 kilowatt-hours of electricity over one year.

An LED sign’s power usage isn’t normally as high as neon signs. LEDs, if left on for the same amount of time, will consume around 3.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. That means that LED signs use less power than their neon competitors, meaning they could be more cost effective. 

Aesthetic Appeal

Neon signs do tend to be more aesthetically pleasing as they are a warmer light. Moreover, they can give a sense of nostalgia to those who have been around them all their lives. Think Hollywood and Las Vegas, with their bright blinking lights advertising casinos and theaters. Or maybe Tokyo, bright neon lights inspiring customers to grab some ramen. If you’re going for a more rustic and old school vibe, neon lights may be the way to go. 

LEDs aren’t as warm. If you’re trying to provide comfort it may not be the way to go.

Yet, if you’re trying to be innovative or looking toward the future, LED signs may be more ideal. LEDs give off a more futuristic vibe. This is great for companies that are always pushing out something new (e.g. tech companies). Another thing LED lights have is the ability to change color, which neon lights don’t have. So if you want to play around with animation, stick with LEDs. You can be a lot more creative with the design of your sign with LEDs. 

Brightness/Visibility

Description: LED vs neon lights brightness

LED lights are far superior to neon lights when it comes to brightness. Not only are they much brighter, but LED signs can be seen much more clearly from a distance. Neon signs will appear more blurry in the distance.

On top of that, you can see LED signs during the daytime. It’ll be much harder to see neon signs when the sun is out. You may not even realize a neon sign is on. That’s why cities look so different at night. So if you’re hoping for daytime customers for your diner or clothing store, an LED sign may be a more practical solution. 

Maintenance

LED signs don’t need much if any maintenance. 

Neon signs, unlike LED signs, do need regular maintenance. You need to refill the gas in the tubes every so often. If you don’t want to refill it, you’ll need to buy a new sign.

You need to clean neon signs regularly, as dust will accumulate. The dust can dim the brightness and decrease the shelf-life of your sign. It’s always a good idea to clean both neon and LED signs to keep them looking fresh and new. 

If you live in a colder climate and place your neon sign outside, you could deal with issues of your sign dimming. If you choose to have a neon sign in a cooler climate, choose neon gas over argon gas. Neon gas will be far more reliable. 

Accessibility

Depending on your budget, LED signs will be slightly cheaper than neon lights. Neon lights will be the most expensive option when it comes to lighting. This is especially true, as neon signs are being used less and less, making them harder to find. 

If you’ve chosen your sign and installed it, LED signs are much easier to operate. You can get a wireless modem and a remote for your LED sign. On either type of sign, you should be able to attach a timer where the outlet is if you want a timed feature. 

Safety

Neon signs can easily break, leading to glass going everywhere and gas entering the air. If neon gas is released, there should be no cause for worry unless you’re in a confined space. Yet, if there was argon gas in the tubes, precautions should be made.

If a neon sign breaks, it’s best to get away from the area. If the sign is inside, make sure to open some windows to help the gas escape.

LED signs are far more durable and are less likely to break. This makes them safer and means you’ll save more money. Moreover, if something should happen, LED signs are easier to recycle.

Neon vs LED: The Choice Is Yours

Now that we’ve looked at neon vs. LED signs, it’s time to decide which is right for you. You want a sign that speaks to your business and will draw in the right type of customers. Your sign will be the first thing your customers see, you want to leave a lasting impression. If there’s anything else you want to know about corporate lighting options, reach out to us today. We have experience with neon lighting and LED signs and can help you figure out which is right for your business.

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